Last night's Las Palmas-Betis game threw up, what for many younger fans, would be a rarity in the game: an indirect free-kick inside the box. For some reason, match officials around the world have resisted to blow-up and award this punishment for some time now, they award a penalty or wave play on. The rule-book does however state that serious fouls inside the box must be punished with a spot kick whilst lesser offences should be punished with an indirect free kick from the point of infringement. This was always universally understood but now seems not to be the case. During the Eibar-Espanyol game, Undiano awarded a penalty instead of an indirect free-kick and two weeks ago Borbalán waved play-on after Lucas Hernández kicked Sergio Ramos during the Madrid derby..
The example during the Las Palmas game is different however after Adán picked-up a pass back from a Betis defender which resulted in the indirect free-kick inside the area and was interesting to see the rarely seen image of wall of Betis defenders lined up on the goal line. More often than not the attacking side fail to score from these situations but for the spectator it provides a dose of adrenalin and excitement. The pass-back rule is relatively new and still manages to catch the odd goalkeeper out but it does evoke memories of the game from the past.
There are other refereeing habits or traditions that have virtually disappeared from the game. The drop-ball for example or blow-up when a player used to back-in contesting a ball or the old tactic of blocking the goalkeeper attempting to kick out the ball. I hope that if we regain the indirect free-kick in the opposition area then we can regain other forgotten rules and regulations The rule-book should be given more respect and I'd like to think that the Las Palmas indirect free-kick incident will inspire other match officials to not be afraid to offer alternative punishment inside the area apart from a penalty.